20 August, 2012
Yesterday we began the adventure as a team. We somehow all collaborated exactly where we were instructed to (although not everyone was up on that information) and beat our Best Semester rep there! Meeting everyone was exciting. How nice to finally meet face to face the individuals you have been more or less stalking for the past couple months on Facebook. There are 24 of us all together. The ratio is killer—4 guys and 21 girls. Fifteen of us arrived in Washington Dulles to travel the whole excursion as a group. All went over smoothly with the group. Naturally, bonding began instantaneously as we realized that these were the folks we were about to live with for 4 months, in Africa no less.
We flew through British Air. I must have been made quite the surprised face when a flight attendant mentioned feeding us a meal. “You mean a real meal?”, I asked. She just looked at me oddly and answered, “Yes, is that alright?”, in her wonderful British accent. I was thrilled. What wasn’t thrilling is that this was a 7 hour overnight flight and it was hard to rest. I must have managed to grab about 3 hours shut-eye total. Although I was exhausted from my day of traveling from Cali, a mixture of social-needs and excitement kept me from getting my full on rest. Morning came (night and morning on the same flight, imagine that). I peeked through the shut window cover and discovered the sky right before the sun rose. What an amazing view of the horizon…a faint hue of rosy pink showed me exactly where the sky ended and the ocean began. A mere lemon-orange muffin and some shabby coffee was served as a so-called breakfast. Flight attendants came around consistently asking for “rubbish”, our trash in other words.
We arrived safe and sound in London and 13 of the 15 of us cleaned up in the bathroom as best we could, made our way through customs, dropped off our extra carry-ons at the “lost luggage” station downstairs…or whatever level it was. London Heathrow airport is simply massive. It might as well have served as the World Fair that was once in Missouri. Currency exchange came next. Nasty rates, but fun coins and bills! For those of you who told me Britain uses Euros, you lied. It’s pounds and pence after all. We bought an all day pass for the tube. Oh the stories! The tube split us up a few times, almost caught my arm in its graceless door and boy was it toasty. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say a day on that thing could well prepare one for New York’s subway system…and I hear it’s harsh.
Being absolutely worn out and wearing some pathetic shoes, I can’t exactly say I had a high time in London, but hey! I got to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathredal, the Thames river, London Ferris and the national museum of Art. Our group was so incredibly exhausted by the end of the day, but if I don’t get to come back, I can say I’ve seen the better part of London, I suppose.
Right now we are on our flight to Entebbe, but it wasn’t about to happen without a bit of trouble. One of our girls lost her passport! We thought we were going to have to leave her at London Heathrow, but a security guard encouraged her to dig through the trash and there she found it, soaked in Fanta and accompanied by her ipod and other important documents. We have yet to understand how exactly that occurred, but it doesn’t matter, because she is here safe with the rest of us.
As soon as this flight took off, my body wanted nothing more than to conk out, so I did. I wouldn’t blame the flight attendant if he thought I was on too large a prescription drug, for every time he passed by, I woke up instantly requesting food or drink but not hearing a word he said and barely able to keep my eyes open. After this post, I am bound to return to that wonderful land of complete brain rest.
Inching toward the personal side…I love my group. We have quite the broad array of personalities. The majority of students seem to be participating in the social work program and aren’t exactly as prone toward mission-minded work as I was anticipating. However, I can see that the handful of IMME students (that’s the emphasis I am participating in), are more or less on the same boat as myself and are definitely expecting some movement and direction from the Lord from this trip. I am praying that we get placed in houses nearby to each other so we can walk to and fro and be a part of each other’s families.
In about 5 hours, we will touch down in Entebbe at 7:45 a.m. their time. All day long will be orientation and after that, those of us who are IMME students will be dropped off at the houses of the families we will be staying with. I am really quite disappointed that I will have to present myself with irritated skin and oily hair from not being able to shower in the past 48+ hours. Lovely, right?
Good to know God has all this world traveling, losing passports, lack of sleep and hygiene stuff all in His hands.